Time For Dinner

dinner_at_bite_club_house_woollahra01_website_image_jwce_standard

This ought to come as no surprise to anyone, but I love food, specifically dinner.  What’s more is that I love eating dinner with others.  There is something to be said about the conversations to be had and the relationships that can be built around the dinner table.  Dinner with my family and with others is something that I look forward to…a lot…

Paul reminds the church in Corinth of the incredible importance of the communion meal:

25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.  (1 Corinthians 11:25-26 | NLT)

What I am reminded of as I spend time reflecting on Paul’s words is that, when we eat together, it is not only a great time together but can and should serve as an incredible reminder of Christ in us.  He gave us this opportunity to both remember and to celebrate not only who Christ was, but what he did with you and I in mind.  He gave of himself; completely and entirely.  Jesus shed his blood in the most horrific way dying a criminals death in our stead.  It’s brilliant!  It’s reconciling.  It’s undeserved.  It’s to be celebrated, and Jesus gave us an example of how we are to celebrate in the form of a meal together.

I love dinner for many reasons, the least of which is celebrating Jesus and proclaiming him in my life and the relationships that I get to share in.

Eat well, my friends and remember to celebrate.

~Andrew

Temptation: It is what it is…

temptation_-_cat_and_goldfish_bowl

I grew up with cats.  I don’t like cats, but I grew up with them.  The reasons that I don’t like cats have nothing to do with my thoughts on temptation so I will refrain from sharing in hopes of keeping my attentions focused and on point.

Despite my lack of care for cats, there is one picture of a cat that I do like because it tells an incredible story (see above).  In this picture there is a cat sitting, staring, looking longingly into a fishbowl that is at eye level and would be easy to reach into and attack the natural prey for a cat, which are some little orange gold fish.  The picture speaks volumes about temptation, about self control, about choices, and about abstaining from our innate desires.

Paul talks about these types of temptations and choices in his address to the church in Corinth:

13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 | NLT)

There was an incredible amount of temptation within the early churches, nothing that you and I don’t experience as part of the body of Christ today: lust, greed, drunkenness, idol worship, sexual sin and more.  What Paul knew to be true is that God would be faithful and would always provide a way out when it comes to matters of sin and making a way for a right choice; a choice to honor God instead of pleasing people or ourselves through sin, which separates us from God.  Here’s what’s cool about Paul’s encouragement of God’s faithfulness and provision in the midst of temptation: God is still God – who was and who is and who is to come.  The Word of God is both active and alive.  Simply put, there is no limitation(s) on God’s faithfulness and providing you and I a way out when it comes to matters of sin.  We get to choose whether to sin or not.  It’s nothing that “happens” to us.  It’s a choice…we choose.

Like the cat who clearly exhibits self-control in face of temptation, we must look past the temptation and through the fishbowl in order to see right through the temptation and recognize it for what it is: empty, broken, flawed, reckless.  Instead, we must make the right choice in the middle of our temptation and celebrate the victories that we are able to find in Christ and in him alone.

Take every thought captive.  Make your thoughts submissive to Christ.  Consider the cost(s).  Celebrate the victories.  Walk in faithfulness to God as he was, is and will always be faithful to you.

~Andrew

Results

not-getting-p90x-results

2result (Merriam-Webster)

noun

: something that is caused by something else that happened or was done before

: the final score or a description of who won and lost in a game, election, etc.

: a win especially in a soccer match

Everyone I know, including the littlest of kids, is familiar with results – how actions lead to a reaction or a “result”.  It’s a part of human nature.  We gauge success based off of results.  We look at something and consider it a failure based on results.  In everything, literally everything in life, there is an end result.

I am and have always been a very competitive person.  I look to results to help me determine my success.  Now I’m not saying that the results are always the most accurate and I am certainly not suggesting that everything that I do hinges on the results that I see.  What I am saying is that, when used properly, results can tell you a lot about what you are doing and who you are.  They can serve as a barometer to health and growth and sustainability.  Results shouldn’t detour us from those things that we want to accomplish in life but should inspire and motivate us toward achieving our goals.

The Apostle Paul was a results oriented person.  He gauged much of his ministry on two types of standards: 1) Obedience to God; and 2) Results.  I was reminded of this again this morning in my devotion:

9 “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
                                                                                                                                                         (1 Corinthians 9:1-2 | NIV)

Paul considered his life and ministry with the people of Corinth as a testament or result of his work in the ministry.  While there were those who were questioning the validity of Paul and his ministry; who he was, what he was doing, how he was doing it, etc., Paul makes it clear that the direct result of his ministry was the people of Corinth themselves.  

As I shared briefly before, Paul considered two types of standards: obedience and results.  In the case of those in the church of Corinth, Paul was letting them know that the way that they chose to live their lives was a direct result of Paul’s time in ministry with them.  He goes on to explain that there is both value and necessary compensation for such results.  You can read the rest of this line of thinking throughout 1 Corinthians 9.

In your life, what do you use to weight the results of what you’ve done?  Is obedience to God one of your barometers?  Are you more concerned with the approval of God than you are of man?  These are some questions that I think are good for us to wrestle with.  If we don’t answer these and other questions like these, we run the risk of looking for results that are undefined and often underachieve as a direct result of striving for what we are unsure of.

Today, I want to encourage you to run the race before you, whatever that is, with purpose and passion, and to seek God for your reward.

~Andrew

Don’t Mistake Knowledge For Love

GIJoeHeader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Knowledge is power.”

That’s what I was told as a kid.  It was a nice teeshirt slogan.  You would hear it in the classroom.  There were times that I remember it being in the cartoons that I would watch as a kid, specifically the cartoon series, GI JOE: Real American Hero.  At the end of each GI JOE episode there would be a moment in which one of the key characters of the cartoon for that morning would have a choice to make: Getting ready for a basketball game, do I a) eat this apple; or b) eat this candy bar.  Right before the kid was about to make the wrong choice, one of the GI JOE heroes would come onto the scene and help the kid make the right choice.  When helped to make the better decision, the kid would always say, “Thanks!  Now I know…”, to which the GI JOE would say, “And knowing is half the battle.”

One of the things that I’ve come to realize over my short 36 years here on earth is knowledge in and of itself does not equal power.  That’s a lie.  Unapplied knowledge is nothing more than something learned.  Instead, it’s the application of knowledge that leads to power.  Applied knowledge equates to power.

I want to parallel something that the Apostle Paul shared with his church in Corinth regarding knowledge and power:

 8 “Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-2 | NIV)

There was so much going on in the life of the church there in Corinth.   People were obsessed with what they felt they knew and how it could benefit their lives.  They were absolutely sure of themselves and their actions, yet the way they were living their lives was wrong on many, many levels.  Paul addresses much of these contradictions of behavior earlier in 1 Corinthians and throughout the rest of the letter.

While knowledge is important, people really don’t care how much you and I know until they know how much you and I care.  We must be ever-intentional about living love and utilizing our knowledge as a tool to better those (people and processes) around us.  When we live love and have earned the right to speak into the lives of others, our knowledge is received and becomes so much more beneficial on so many levels.

So…forget what you thought you knew and start with how you live.

~Andrew

SOLD

sold-stamp

I love walking through just about any store with my kids.  They are so curious and are always looking at the things in whatever store that we’re in to see what they might like to buy.  The problem is, most of the time they have little money and no concept of what something will cost them…or in many cases, cost me.

This last summer my 10-year old son and my 8-year old daughter decided that they wanted to make their own money in order to buy some things that they’ve been wanting.  Being the good dad that I am, I figured it was high-time they start “earning their keep”.  In seriousness, though, I was in complete support of them.  I want to encourage their creativity.  I want to cheer on their entrepreneurship.  I want to challenge them to trouble-shoot and problem solve.  I want to be their biggest fan and cheerleader.  

Shortly after my kid’s declaration that they wanted to come up with something to make money for themselves, they quickly came up with a plan and over the next few days I watched as they put their plan into action.  Together, working hand-in-hand, which is a minor miracle in and of itself, my kids worked to make Friendship Bracelets, hair bows, Parachord Bracelets and more.  They put their crafts together with purpose and intentionality.  Doing research, they came up with a price point and had a pretty large inventory for people to choose from.  The following day my kids had a booth set up in our culdesac and their little enterprise began.  Within weeks my kids had sold better than $100 worth of their product.  What impressed me most was that they re-invested their earnings into more product and expanded their product line – so funny to say when you consider that their kids.  Now that we are near the end of summer, they have effectively earned better than $100; their operation lost steam toward the beginning of August as other interests of theirs took priority.  

Now my kids are sharing the profits and are really intentional about what they plan to buy with their earnings.  I think they have a much healthier understanding of the price that they’ll need to pay and of what something they desire will cost them.

Paul addresses this same idea with his friends and church in Corinth:

“But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11 | NLT)

It’s imperative that we consider the cost of what Jesus did for us and while our salvation is a gift from God that cost’s us nothing, it isn’t free.  We are bought at a price; an immeasurable price with overhead greater than you or I could ever afford.  Yet God makes a way day in and day out through His Son, Jesus, who gave up the greatest sacrifice so that you and I might be bought at a price.  It’s because of Jesus – BECAUSE OF JESUS – that you are and I live and move and have our being.  We experience the freedom through Christ that isn’t free at all.

Let’s count the cost lest we forget the incredible price God has paid for you and I.

~Andrew

Get ’em fresh!

Krispy-Kreme-Awards-Franchise-Development-Rights-For-Singapore

September, 2002, I grabbed a flight to San Antonio, Texas to meet up with my then, girlfriend, to ask her to spend the rest of her life with me.  There were a lot of “firsts” for me on that trip: my first time to Texas, my first kiss with my future wife, my first time on The River Walk in San Antonio, but one of the firsts that stands out to me most has to be my first time to Krispy Kreme.  Prior to my trip to Texas, I had no idea what a Krispy Kreme was let alone where to find one.  I had never experienced what I had experienced with Stacy (my wife) like this before.  Donut-topia!

We walked in off of the streets, unassuming and looking forward to a pastry.  What we encountered was something for a whole other world.  They were pulling the donuts off of the conveyer belt, freshly baked, glazed and covered with sprinkles and a vast array of other toppings.  We were quickly swept off of our feet when they gave us a sample donut to try.  It was there, in that moment, from that first bite, that I was hooked.  To this day Krispy Kreme is my favorite donut.  They’re as close to heaven as one can get here on earth…sort of…and with enough Krispy Kreme’s, they’ll help you experience heaven a bit sooner.

The think that I learned while Stacy and I were touring the Krispy Kreme store was the process of making each donut.  We learned some of the intricacies of the process as well as the ingredients, how they were put together, etc.  We also learned while we were there that if anything was out of order or if the ingredients weren’t just right, that the entire batch could be ruined, which could lead to a bad-tasting donut and could negatively affect their reputation for making a quality product in a unique way.  It was serious business and the employees took their responsibilities incredibly serious.  

Paul addresses an issue of immorality with the church in Corinth and uses baking bread and it’s ingredients as an incredible word-picture:

6 “Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread[c] of sincerity and truth.”
(1 Corinthians 5:6-8 | NLT)

In cultural context, bread was a staple for the Corinthian culture.  It was common to man, easy to make and inexpensive to do so.  Bread, specifically unleavened bread, also carried a significant amount of weight with those in the faith community as they both recognized and celebrated The Feast of Unleavened Bread – a Mosaic festival celebrating the Israelites exodus from the hands of Egypt.  Paul was addressing bread that had too much yeast or spoiled yeast and the affects that it would have on the rest of the loaf of bread.  If too much or if it was not good yeast, it would spoil the rest of the bread making the whole thing useless.  He parallels our faith and who we allow to influence our lives as well as the choices that we make to that of yeast in bread.

It’s imperative that we consider not only how we’re living our lives, but who we allow to invest (put ingredient) into our lives as well.  If we allow the wrong outside influence, we run the risk of their influence spilling over and spoiling other areas of our lives as well.  This is why it’s imperative that we be ever-intentional not solely about how we live our lives, but with whom we allow to influence our lives as well.

My encouragement is to be incredibly intentional about who you let speak into your life.  After all, you are a new creation in Christ.  The old is gone, the new has come.  Live a life that is new and renewed in Jesus every day and allow those in your life to help cultivate this life that honors God above all else.

~Andrew

 

Mime: A life worth following

11286770-large

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, one of the things that I grew up with a deep sense of appreciation for are street artists and performers.  In fact, some of the greatest musicians that I have heard (specifically drummers), have come from passing them by on the streets.  Captivating me with their creativity and imagination as well as an unprecedented ability to put themselves out there for all to see, I will almost always stop for several minutes to watch these performers do their thing(s).

Of all of the brilliant street performances that I’ve seen, none stand out to me quite like one mime that I saw in Portland.  An amazing control over his body, he was able to maintain a statue-like position for several minutes until, at last, someone would deposit some change into his collection plate; from there he would do some of the most imaginative and impressive miming I have ever seen.  It was seemingly flawless.  Capturing every movement and idiosyncrasies of this counterpart, it was captivating.  To have this kind of control of one’s actions and ability to mimic the actions of others was unlike anything I had seen before.

As I was reading through Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, I was taken back to a place of sheer amazement at his words which seem to take on the direction of a mime.

14 “I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. 15 For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 16 So I urge you to imitate me.  17 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.”  
(1 Corinthians 4:14-17 | NLT)

Paul is addressing a group of people who are trying to mimic the actions of man, whether Cephas or Apollos, these men were divided over who to follow.  What’s more is that this was a culture where public fame was something desired by many and learning to imitate the actions of those with notoriety was a common practice.

Just beyond chapter 4, verse 17 is verse 20 where Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” This is critical in processing how people live their lives.  Whether people are busy looking to others for a model to follow or are doing little more than talking about what kind of person they are, Paul has a very different approach that he gives people to consider and to follow.

I love how Paul reminds the church of the actions that he had displayed while he was among them the first time planting the church, building into their lives, teaching, loving, admonishing and more.  In other words, Paul is who he says he is and his actions dictate this fact; not merely his words.  He says, I’m going to send my son Timothy, (a term of endearment) as one who knows me: my life, my work, my walk, my words, and can attest that what I say to you is in fact how I am living my life. This gives both credibility and authority to Paul as he instructs those that he is responsible to care for.

So what you you and me?  We have a responsibility for those that are in our lives don’t we: our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, etc.  We have an incredible mandate on our lives to show people Christ with our lives and to use our words in auxiliary to how we are living.  

If someone were to mimic your actions and your faith and how you live your life, what kind of person would they be.  What would that look like?  Consider today what God has called you to and what kind of impact you might have if you live out your faith in all things.  As Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  Let’s be the example of Christ today!

~Andrew